In 2019, the Columbus Branch of the NAACP came before the Franklin County Board of Elections to request the Board release a communication plan with designated funds for voter registration and education prior to the March 2020 primary election. The Franklin County Board of Elections has regularly approved spending these funds for over a decade to assist the voters of Franklin County in knowing what ID they need to vote, the hours of the Early Voting Center, and the contact information of the Board if they have any questions. The two Democratic members of the Board supported this request, while the two Republicans did not. The request was denied
The NAACP requested that the Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose, break the tie that existed between the Republicans and Democrats. Secretary LaRose did not comply with our request and instead issued a weak statement that hid behind the Republican Board members and their disinterest in our voting rights. Secretary LaRose then sent the NAACP a plan for the general election in November 2020 and requested our input. We could not possibly approve any plan until the Secretary provides details of how it will not disenfranchise our community.
The Columbus Branch of the NAACP strongly believes that the Secretary of State is suppressing the vote, by refusing to intervene on behalf of the voters of Franklin County. His rejection will hurt communities of color, particularly African Americans who were twice as likely to cast provisional votes, areas with high poverty rates which were almost four times as likely to cast provisional votes, and areas with young voters, which were nearly five times as likely to cast provisional votes. The voters of our community should not be penalized for the indifference shown by Republicans about voting rights – this is something we have come to expect at the national level, but not from those who claim to be our friends and neighbors. They should be ashamed of their actions and work to regain the trust of the voters by taking politics out of voting.
The NAACP is a non-partisan organization. We have a long history of providing voters with the information they need in order to cast their ballot – including where to go, what you need, when can you vote, who the candidates are, and how you can cast your vote. We stand against any attempt by any party to suppress our right to vote – and will stand against any effort made to disenfranchise our community by withholding information we deserve to have. We call upon Secretary LaRose, Republican BOE members Brad Sinnott and Doug Preisse to come back to the table and work on a plan that communicates all necessary voter information through the mediums that reach each and every resident of Franklin County. It is their duty, and we will hold them to it.
Nana Watson, President
Columbus Branch NAACP
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